From scooters to ski pants, from white lipstick to winkle pickers, STARK RAVING MOD! is a celebration of the 60s-revival Mod subculture in 1980s Australia.

Posted: December 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 2 Comments »



Q. Can you briefly tell the story of the evolution of the Introverts.

Well, the original Introverts were Chris Vaughan on guitar, Trevor Conomy on bass, Kris Svendsen on drums and myself on vocals. This was the Sussex Hotel lineup in 1980. The band held a Tuesday night residency at the Sussex Hotel for the best part of 1980 under the guidance of manager, Sandra Glennan (God bless her). In order to break further afield, the band decided to accept an offer to be managed by Stuart Coupe and Roger Grierson’s Green Records label and although there were lots of recording promises, none eventuated. The original Introverts were always strongly supported by the Sussex Hotel Mods but disbanded due to constant rhythm section disagreements. Trevor Conomy was the main songwriter in the band and Chris and myself worked on the covers that we felt were needed to appease our audience. The band fell apart due to Trevor and Kris continuously bitching at each other.

In 1981, Chris and myself teamed up with Scott Mathieson (ex-Riptides), drummer Hans Bos (ex-Golden Earring) and saxophonist Bruce Leyland to form the Pop Hearts. We didn’t play any of Trevor’s songs. Instead I revamped my half a dozen songs that Trevor wasn’t interseted in and Scott provided the rest from his Riptides days. We still played covers but because we had Bruce on sax we drew most of them from Motown. We weren’t interested in playing the Motown covers in their original style. Instead we sped them up and gave them a hard rock edge. We were rather successful with this approach and didn’t lose any of our original Introverts audience. We recorded some songs but personal problems saw the band disband by the end of the year. Chris was in his last year of uni and decided that he’d had enough. Bye bye, Chris.

Trevor came back on the scene and we decided to revamp The Introverts Mk II. This time my songs were added to the play list and we recruited Keith Claringbold (ex-Sets guitarist) on bass. Trevor played guitar and Dave Barber came in on drums. Dave was my cousin and was actually too young to play in the venues but we sorted that out in our own way. You can hear our live recordings courtesy of Inner City Sound thanks to Keith Claringbold, who I’d always admired for his sincerity and ‘Mod’ focus. If I was ever asked if there was a ‘face’ in the Sydney scene, Keith would get my vote, next to Phil Robinson (who I lived with for 5 years) and Stuart Hooper (one of the nicest guys you could ever meet). These guys were the original Sets who started the whole Sydney Mod scene at the Sussex Hotel, no matter what anyone else says. Hats off to you, guys, love your work!

But I digress. The WORST thing that ever happened to this lineup was that we had all of our gear stolen from outside Sgt Peppers Nightclub in Kings Cross one night. A benefit concert was held at Sydney Trade Union Club courtesy of the Riptides, Spy vs Spy and the Allniters. None of this would have happened without Stuart and Roger’s doing. Within three days we were back playing our usual spots and we had new guitars and amps. But Trevor became adamant that we should get a keyboard player onboard. I always wanted the band to be guitar-based. Filling out the sound took away from the notion that ‘less was more’. So after much shitfighting we recruited John Hoey (former X-Men, later Died Pretty) and even though I knew that John was an exceptional keyboard player, I never agreed that he added any spark to the four piece lineup. As far as I was concerned, he was just another mouth to feed. Then the rot really set in. Both John and Trevor started to run with the line that Stuart and Roger were no good for the band and if we wanted to ‘go places’ we needed better management. John had previously been involved with the Della brothers so a meeting was arranged with Danny Della at his plush Bondi offices. I was gobsmacked and couldn’t believe the bullshit that was being served up to us. John and Trevor sold our souls and I felt nothing but remorse from that day on. Stuart and Roger were such good friends of mine; we’d worked together for years and I could never get over the fact that, after the benefit gig, we basically screwed them. And no matter what I said, it didn’t matter. I just couldn’t look those guys in the face anymore: I was so distraught.

Trevor became increasingly erratic over the next year and finally pulled the plug. I saw it coming and enlisted an old friend of mine, Steve Piltz, to learn Trevor’s guitar lines before everything was totally fucked. John packed up his keyboard and walked out of our first rehearsal before Steve had even played one chord. We were back to being a four-piece guitar band and took a four week residency at the St GeorgeBudapest Soccer Club. Richard Lawson from the Lime Spiders decided to look after the band’s gigs and we started supporting the Scientists and reaffirmed our Sydney Trade Union Club connections. We still maintained a Mod following even though our sound took on a harder edge with Steve in the band. This lineup recorded our only single, ‘Girl On Page Three’, a song penned by Keith Claringbold, backed with ‘Standard Days’, my own composition. Unfortunately, Steve wasn’t convinced of his abilities and internal disagreements prompted his decision to quit on the eve of a Melbourne tour supporting the Hoodoo Gurus. Our final gig was our single launch at the Sydney Trade Union Club and ‘Girl On Page Three’ reached number two on the Sydney Independent Records Chart without any further hype.

Months later I received a phone call from Mushroom Records saying they liked the single and wanted the band to come to Melbourne to record an album but I said no without contacting any of the other members. When the single was released in 1983, our record company Method Records called the Introverts ‘Sydney’s Premier Mod Band’ but I never subscribed to the media push…and I guess I never will. That pretty much sums up my viewpoint on the whole mess. To those who felt they got burnt…I’m fucking sorry. Enough said.

Q. Was the Introverts your first foray into sixties music as a band?

No. Chris and myself had earlier played with Subversion (not the same pricks who fucked people over in the late 80s), which was strictly a ‘Velvet Underground’ tribute band from the time I left school in 1977 to the time I left Teachers College in 1979. We played once a month, every full moon or thereabouts, at the Royal Standard Hotel on the corner of Castlereagh and Bathurst Sts, Sydney. The band consisted of Lionel O’Neil on rhythm guitar, Christine O’Neil on drums, Martin Fabok (later in The Allniters) on lead guitar, Chris on bass and Leanne Fallone and myself sharing the vocals. There were no Mods on the scene, only inner-city punks, drug addicts and assorted crazies. One night, a rep from Suicide Records turned up to offer us a spot on a compilation album (which was later released as ‘Lethal Weapons’) but as we didn’t really play original songs and the band had no recording experience, we didn’t meet his criteria. His loss, and, from the subsequent reviews, I’m glad we weren’t a part of it.

Q. What got you into the Mod and 60s revival sound? What artists (old and contemporary) influenced you?

I grew up in the 60s and I always liked 60s stuff. I liked the avant-gardeism of the Fluxus, John Cage and the Velvets. I liked the Pop Art of Lichtenstein and Warhol. I guess I liked anything that had ‘free spirit’ and I liked the concept of experimentation. But I was always aware that you couldn’t alienate your audience. You always had to give them something they could relate to. After all, they kept you fed.

Q. Did any band members consider themselves Mods, or did you just like the sixties fashion? Were any of the members Mods before you got into Mod music and before you met other Sydney Mods, or did you merge into that scene once you started gigging around?

We were there when it started. We helped create the mindset. Whether we were successful or not really boiled down to whether we could maintain the audience…which we did. Fashion was big. It set us apart from the other bands on the Sydney music scene. Punks wore PVC bike jackets, t-shirts and jeans. Mods wore tonic suits, button-down collared shirts or Fred Perrys. It felt good to be well dressed and it made you stand out in a crowd.

Q. Where was your first gig? Which other bands (if any) did you play with?

The Royal Standard Hotel with Jump Vision and The Coathangers.

Q. What (if any) were your favourite venues to play and why? Does a particular gig stand out in your memory?

Sydney Trade Union Club was my personal favourite because it really suited the volume that we played at. Like we were SO much louder than the headline acts. It was just over the top and the PA systems they’d had were full-on triple three ways, the sort of thing you use for an outdoor venue. There was no holding back and our sound guys were paid to take it to the limit. The Introverts always pushed the PA to the max. That was the irony in the name. Like, The Who held the record for the loudest rock band ever and we wanted to go that one notch higher.

Q. What was the atmosphere like when playing at the Sussex pit?

Hot and steamy. Very hard nosed, non-stop dancing. Deafening, full-on Mod. Power-pop. Guitars thrashing, ringing in the ears type of stuff. It was THE place to be and what a great place it was.

Q. Your single ‘Standard Days’ is obviously about the Royal Standard and the early Mod movement. Could you give us a potted history of the start of the/early Mod days from your perspective.

The Royal Standard Hotel was run by Chris and Andrew Vaughan’s family. The ‘faces’ referred to in the song were actually old school friends from Peakhurst looking for something new and vibrant. You couldn’t get that in the suburbs – you had to go to the city. There was always a certain mystique about the inner city and you couldn’t get more ‘inner city’ than the Royal Standard pub. I used Pete Meaden’s term ‘faces’ to give the audience a sense of belonging, not to set up one person up above another. Everyone was a ‘face’ if you gave support. I guess that’s where I wrote more as a communist than an elitist.

Video clip: Standard Days, The Introverts

Video clip: Watching the World, The Introverts

Q. Would you say there was a difference in the Sydney Mod scene at the time when the Introverts started and the time you broke up?

No, the Mods always had new recruits. It is a well organised club. There are always social events on the calendar. Mods are mobile. They have their scooters. It’s like a bike club without the leathers.

Q. When the Introverts broke up, did any of the members form new bands or merge with other bands?

Most definitely. Dave and Keith joined the Amazing Woolloomooloosers, I went on to play with the In Crowd. I still perform with my mates from those days. We call ourselves the Sussex Allstars…and why not? I’ve always been a muso first and a Mod second. The Mods know damn well that I have the utmost respect for them and wouldn’t let them down.

Q. What aspects of Mod and the Mod scene appealed to you, and which (if any) didn’t?

It’s always been about the music and the fashion; there’s no getting away from that. What I dislike is the same with anything, and that’s not being true to yourself and your friends. I may not see a lot of the old faces these days but when I do, we always have a good laugh reminiscing about old times.

Q. What would you say was the highlight of your time with the Introverts?

Performing in Hyde Park, Sydney back in 1981 with the original band and seeing the Sussex Mods down the front, lapping it all up.

Q. Do you have a yarn about a good (or bad) moment from your time with the Sydney Mods?

I remember Paul Berwick from the Happy Hate Me Nots asking Trevor if he could use his guitar in the Sussex pit one night. Trev said that was OK as long as he didn’t do a ‘Pete Townshend’ on it. It was a Gibson SG that had just been refretted. Paul was on his best behaviour right up until the last song when he grabbed the mic stand and ran it up and down the neck, in true Sussex style. The crowd went mad and Trev went off his nut at Paul straight after their gig, which I thought was really fucked of him ‘cause the Hate Me Nots had played a blinder. So I intervened and said to Trev, ‘Fuck mate, it’s only a fucking SG. It’s not like it’s a fucking Rickenbacker.’ That got Paul off the hook and I gladly took the rest of Trev’s abuse.

Q. Did you ever play interstate? What was your reception there like? Were you embraced by the Mods in the other states?

We toured Melbourne once in 1983 and were made very welcome by the Mod contingent there.

Q. In your opinion, do you think that the Australian Mod scene was a flash in the pan or has it had any lasting influence on Australian music and pop culture?

My personal belief is that Australian Mod Music is still alive and kicking in every venue around the country but the majority of punters wouldn’t know it if they fell over it.


Favourite contemporary Mod band: The Jam

Favourite contemporary Mod song: In the City

Favourite sixties Mod band: The Creation

Favourite sixties Mod song: Making Time

Favourite Mod singer: Roger Daltrey

Favourite Mod album: Secret Affair – Glory Boys

Favourite Mod wardrobe item or Mod accessory: Lambretta cufflinks

Favourite Mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): My studio

  • my name it means nothing

    still have my bootleg tape of “Europe”
    from one x forest ranger footballer to another thank you

  • Kris Svendsen

    Still have the cassette tape from the demo sessions
    Kris Svendsen (original drummer)